SERVICE: Helen Shevellar with Bay Centre Medical doctor Greg Gover and practice manager Karina Masterson.
SERVICE: Helen Shevellar with Bay Centre Medical doctor Greg Gover and practice manager Karina Masterson. Christian Morrow

Helen's 57 years of care

HELEN Shevellar believes she has been lucky enough to live and work through the best days of both Byron Bay and the nursing profession.

It's a bitter-sweet occasion for the nurse, retiring today after a career that began in 1960.

For the past 33 years she has been a practice nurse at Bay Centre Medical, arriving in the town in 1967.

"When we arrived Byron Bay had two policemen and two doctors and a population of just 2000 people.

"I think I have seen the town at its best, it was a magical place where everybody knew each other and helped each other,” she said.

"Back then we did everything at Byron Hospital from delivering babies through to operations and everything in between.”

Helen began her nursing training in 1960 at Prince Alfred hospital in Sydney and is a registered nurse and registered midwifery nurse.

"I loved every minute of my training, I think we had the best years of nursing,” she said.

"Now we have to spend so much time on the computer devoted to documenting every single little thing we do it can feel like we spend more time on the computer than we do attending to the patients.

"I think nurses working in hospitals these days are a lot more stressed than I ever was during my career.”

Helen says one of the things she will miss the most when she retires is working with the doctors and staff at Bay Centre Medical.

"There are many amazing doctors that have worked here over the years, their support and devotion to everyone here and to each other has been just amazing,” she said.

"The best thing about being a nurse is the contact with the people.”

Helen is a staunch believer in immunisation.

She well remembers the last big polio outbreak in 1962 in Australia.

"Here at the centre I love seeing the children coming in to get their vaccinations,” she said.

"We live in an anti vaccination area but I think it's important to get the kids vaccinated so that they don't get the same diseases I saw when I was being trained.”

Born in Orange, NSW, where she was the captain of the school and a state basketball player, Helen married husband Chris in 1968 and the two have three children.

In retirement Helen aims to "keep working as long as possible to keep my mind and body active”.

Helen loves gardening and the couple has transformed the block of land from an old horse paddock after planting 700 trees since 2000.